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Wondering what the future is for blogs?

Is blogging dead?

To discover what the future holds for blogging, I interview Mitch Joel and Mark Schaefer.

More About This Show

The Social Media Marketing podcast is an on-demand talk radio show from Social Media Examiner. It’s designed to help busy marketers and business owners discover what works with social media marketing.

In this episode I interview Mitch Joel and Mark Schaefer. Mitch is the president of Mirum, author of CTRL ALT Delete, host of the Six Pixels of Separation podcast and a blogger at TwistImage.com. Mark Schaefer is a marketing consultant, author of The Content Code, co-host of The Marketing Companion podcast and a blogger at businessesGROW.com.

Mitch and Mark discuss the premise that blogging as we know it is dead.

You’ll explore the future of publishing your content on social networks and beyond.

podcast 178 mark schaefer mitch joel future of blogging

Listen as Mark Schaefer and Mitch Joel discuss the future of blogging.

Share your feedback, read the show notes and get the links mentioned in this episode below.

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You can also subscribe via iTunes, RSS, Stitcher or SoundCloud.

Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:

The Future of Blogging

Blogging’s evolution

Mitch recalls that when blogging first came to be, there wasn’t much else. Technology didn’t empower us to do things like shoot and post videos immediately, stream online or do podcasts. Back then, even sharing images was pretty difficult.

He shares that for him, blogging started to evolve when social media platforms for smaller forms of text-based publishing turned up, like Twitter. Then images and video became easier to publish and share.

Mitch says things became very different with Twitter and Facebook status updates. The updates gave people who were writing long-form articles the ability to publish stream of consciousness–style instead. He talks about how this change created a space for platforms like Huffington Post to progress and become more popular with people who wanted to write.

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Publishing on other platforms puts your content in front of new audiences. Image: Shutterstock.

While Mitch still looks at his blog as a place for a writer to write, he says it’s no longer the primary place for his content. He talks about putting content in places such as Medium, LinkedIn Publisher, Facebook Notes and Harvard Business Review where it might find different audiences. He explains why he’d rather publish directly on these other sites and use them as his distribution platform.

Mark thinks blogging will be dead when reading is dead and that there will always be a place for long-form content. He explains why things like podcasts and streaming video are taking some readership away and how smartphones play into that.

Mark says that Mitch is onto something in saying what’s changing most drastically is not what we’re doing, but where. He points out that there are cataclysmic changes in how content is published and consumed and offers the example of Facebook Notes, which encourages people to blog on Facebook.

Mark talks about the difference in publishing on Facebook, LinkedIn or other platforms and says the magnet for inbound leads isn’t on your website anymore.

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The source for inbound leads has changed. Image: Shutterstock.

When discussing the question of what is and isn’t a blog, Mitch shares why he’s moving away from using that terminology and using words such as article, writer or journalist instead.

It’s semantics, Mark says, and shares an insight from Tom Webster, his partner on the Marketing Companion podcast. Tom works for Edison Research where they study podcasting a lot. One of the things they found was that people don’t know what the word podcast means.

Listen to the show to discover what Mark says will happen with storytelling and content marketing in a few years.

Building on “rented” land

Mitch says it used to be that publishing on social networks was like building your house on rented land, and explains why he doesn’t believe it’s that way anymore. He shares that it’s no longer a sense of rented versus owned; it’s a combination that creates a holistic platform.

own rent image shutterstock 266974055

It’s smart to put your content on both rented and owned spaces. Image: Shutterstock.

He talks about the biggest problem brands have right now with content marketing and why it’s costing them a lot of time, effort and money to attract a customer.

Mitch says that while Mark and Gini Dietrich have done amazing jobs creating community with their blogs, for most people it’s becoming harder to maintain their audience and community. He shares that as each year progresses, the complexity of the Internet makes it increasingly harder to entice someone to come and read a blog. Mark agrees and says we need to embrace social media.

Mark shares the example of Dorie Clark, author of Stand Out, whom he interviewed for his book. He says Dorie has always published on rented land such as Harvard Business Review, Forbes and other places, hoping it would drive people back to her website, but she found it doesn’t drive traffic.

Mark says Mitch is right and that the energy and cost of drawing people to your site are incredible and are becoming unrealistic for a lot of businesses.

Mitch shares why he thinks email is the bridge to creating tremendous value on rented versus owned land.

Listen to the show to hear how Mitch used to choose which publications to work for as a freelance writer.

Publishing on the different types of alternate platforms

Mitch explains why you can’t view publishing on Facebook to your social network in the same light as you view publishing to a platform like Huffington Post, Mashable or Harvard Business Review that has its own audience. He goes on to discuss why he thinks Medium falls somewhere in the middle and shares what he sees as the value of the platform.

medium the platform

Medium is a growing alternate platform for publishing.

If you’re thinking about publishing three or four times a week, Mitch shares why he advocates doing one article a week on Huffington Post, one on LinkedIn and one on Medium.

Mark points out that publishing on Forbes and Harvard Business Review isn’t accessible to most people. He says that if you’re just starting out, there’s opportunity to reach a vast audience on LinkedIn and Facebook; an audience you could never build on your own.

Listen to the show to discover the additional benefits to publishing on LinkedIn.

How social networks change the rules

Mitch believes social networks charging for visibility is only a problem if the assumption is that distribution should be free, and shares why he believes there’s value in boosting something or paying for it to reach a larger audience.

Mark agrees and recalls his Content Shock post and writing that this is a world where the deep pockets are going to win. He says a lot of people resisted the notion, saying the Internet is the great equalizer. But Mark doesn’t believe that’s true anymore.

He says that while he believes in paying for distribution, he’s concerned it will clean out the people without any money and talks about what he learned from the guy in charge of running the publishing efforts at Facebook.

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Publishers will have to explore paid distribution options. Image: Shutterstock.

Mitch refers back to Content Shock and explains that we’re living in a world where even the best content doesn’t always get seen. He shares that he’s using Pocket to save long-form content to read later and has over 6,000 thoughtful pieces he’s not yet read. (Instapaper is another resource.) There’s too much cream at the top and you now have to fight (or pay) to access an audience, and Mitch thinks people should.

Mark echoes that thought and says we have to think in a different way. He say blogging is more than building a brand or creating a voice of authority; everything you publish is part of the battle for attention.

Listen to the show to hear why Mitch says you can’t confuse big brands publishing content to Facebook with individuals using Facebook to build their networks.

Branding

Mark talks about the importance of using a blog for branding and discusses why he thinks an email newsletter is the glue that holds a brand and its blog together.

Mitch believes the future of brands and their content will be in how they develop their network. He talks about the differences between networks and channels and uses Amazon’s purchase of Twitch to illustrate his point.

Mitch says the Twitch platform is really more of a network because it has different content channels. He says Facebook is a channel you turn on to look at your news feed and Snapchat is a network because there isn’t really a feed; you open the app to see different users. The opportunity for brands, he says, lies in how they develop their content network with the right channels.

network image shutterstock 342705125

Publishers will need to develop content networks. Image: Shutterstock.

Mark says that as the sands of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are shifting, brands need to adapt to the new rules and try new ways of building their audience. Mitch agrees and says that his network model is his answer to those new rules.

Listen to the show to discover how we at Social Media Examiner are building and expanding our brand.

Is blogging dead?

Mark says blogging is not dead, although it’s different and is probably less important than it was a few years ago. He believes blogging will continue to evolve with innovations and ways to connect to people with long-form content. He doesn’t know what it’s going to be, but he doesn’t think it’s going to go away.

Mitch has always referred to blogging as a personal publishing platform. Everyone has the ability to create a piece of text-based content and publish it instantly to the world for free, and without an intermediary. Based on this pure definition, he doesn’t think it’s going anywhere.

Listen to the show to hear more of Mitch’s thoughts on the linguistics of blogging.

Discovery of the Week

Want an app to help you better manage and structure your time? Check out 30/30.

3030 app

The 30/30 app allows you to set tasks in intervals to better manage your time.

The app uses the philosophy behind the Pomodoro method: doing things in intervals, which helps you maintain focus on the task at hand. Essentially you do 30 minutes of work, and then take a 30-minute break (or whatever time period is reasonable for you).

The app has icons for email, books, music, photos, social networks, checklists, etc., that you can line up in personalized workflows. For example, set up 25 minutes of email and then have the next interval be a five-minute break, then repeat that email segment or begin another task segment such as checking Facebook or Twitter.

Each time you’ve completed a segment, the app’s timer notifies you with an alarm. While you’re working, you can see how much time you have left in your current interval and which interval is next. You can even hit pause if you have to take a phone call or attend to something urgent.

The app is for iOS devices and you can get it for free on 3030.binaryhammer.com or in the iOS app store.

Listen to the show to learn more and let us know how 30/30 works for you.

Other Show Mentions

social media marketing worldToday’s show is sponsored by Social Media Marketing World 2016.

You can now sign up for Social Media Marketing World 2016. It’s the world’s largest social media marketing conference. By attending, you’ll make connections with 100+ of the world’s top social media pros (plus 3,000 of your peers) and you’ll discover amazing ideas that’ll transform your social media marketing. Speakers include Guy Kawasaki, Mari Smith, Michael Hyatt, Jay Baer and Michael Stelzner.

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See what attendees experienced at our 2015 conference.

The event takes place in San Diego, California on April 17, 18 and 19, 2016 and hundreds of people have already purchased their tickets. If you’ve heard about Social Media Marketing World, and always wanted to go and connect with the leading thought leaders and soak in a lot of knowledge, visit SMMW16.com.

The networking is going to be off the hook. We have our opening-night party on an aircraft carrier, the USS Midway.

During this episode Phil Mershon, event director at Social Media Examiner, takes you behind the scenes at Social Media Marketing World to share how he’s pulled together moderators and panelists for sessions at the conference. This year’s moderators include Mitch Joel, Jay Baer (influencer marketing), Chris Penn (analytics) and Bryan Kramer (employee advocacy).

If you’re interested in attending Social Media Marketing World, we have the best pricing you will ever find going on right now. Click here to check out the speakers and the agenda and grab your early bird discount.

Listen to the show!

Key takeaways mentioned in this episode:

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Social Media Marketing Podcast w/ Michael Stelzner

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What do you think? What are your thoughts on the future of blogging? Please leave your comments below.

Blog word photoLead magnet photoOwn/Rent photoFree/Paid photo and Network photo from Shutterstock.
social media marketing podcast 178 mitch joel mark schaefer

Mitch Joel and Mark Schaefer talk with Michael Stelzner about the future of blogging.

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  • This is an important discussion — thanks for having it.

    Being heard or seen anywhere now online is more and more challenging, despite the myriad of publishing choices. I write about this at length in my new book, Pod Castaway. As a podcaster and blogger, I struggle to get traction, and I know I’m not alone.

    I wholeheartedly agree we need to kill the concept of your blog being your “home base.” I think now you have to go where the people are (like Facebook), especially when it becomes obvious that the traffic isn’t showing up to your site. Maybe the “home base” theory works for large, successful publishers…but not the majority of bloggers. I’d rather my content actually be seen or heard on “rented land” than it get zero engagement on my pretty vacant property.

  • Hey Brandon,

    Thanks for your comment here. I am still not going to suggest a blogger ever not have a home base. I think it’s important to have a place you can grow and call your own. While it might be harder to get traffic to your site, I am not sure a wholesale abandonment of having your own blog is ever wise. If this is true then there will never be any more big blogs other than those that already exist and I think that is a sad future.

  • Fair enough, Mike! But I now consider my blog more like a nice storage unit. 🙂 All my stuff will be there, but it’s when I take it out and display it on much larger properties that it really starts to matter.

  • Michael,

    As a blogger since 2002, I will keep on blogging for the years to come… 😉

    I have found new channels, platforms and networks over time, e.g., Twitter, my standalone podcast app and physical Meetup events for fellow podcasters.

  • Long live blogging Martin!

  • Michael,
    Based on the conversation on the podcast, do you think you could have launched Social Media Examiner with a similar strategy, or would you start differently? If different, could you share some ideas?

  • Hey David,

    I do not think anyone could launch a site like ours by distributing their content. If you want to build a really big blog you cannot distribute your content everywhere.

  • As I re-read my comment I realized it was mis-communicating…

    In today’s content-overloaded online environment and with the change in social sharing and social traffic numbers could you have launched SME the way you did and experience the same results (you may read this as, “Is “Launch” a valid strategy in today’s online environment or are there major changes that need to be considered?”)

  • Hey David,

    Absolutely the Launch model still would work today. And it actually is more important today as it was always about working with influencers and creating content people love. If I were to start from scratch I would still follow the model. While it might take longer it is a winning strategy in the end because it does not rely on Google or social networks.

  • Michael: Yeah! 🙂

    Have a Prosperous New Year!

    All the Best,

    Martin

  • Hi, I think this is my first comment here. This is really an important issue but i was left with some questions for which i would like to have your opinion.
    1st – even paying, what is the real advantage of distributing content that is not on our own home?
    Let’s be honest, everything we can create on every single social network becomes their property, i mean, on a worst case scenario, one day they decide to shutdown and there goes our content.
    So,
    2nd – Even distributing, we should link content to some “home” shouldn’t we?
    I ask this because to me it makes no sense not linking it all together if we want to create a brand we must have one central place to see that brand.
    3rd- Distributing content thru different networks, even on different days doesn’t it end on duplicating content? Is t not bad?

    I am just a simple blogger, not a big one, but, really one of these days i was writing one note on Facebook and i realized that that note with great content wasn’t on my blog, so i would have to duplicate it.

  • Gloria Rand

    I still believe small businesses should have a blog, because it will help their website with SEO! 🙂 And it shows that they are an authority in their niche. I think it’s a good idea to publish once a week on a platform like LinkedIn or Facebook, but you’re still at the mercy of those networks. If they decide to block you for some reason, you’ve lost your audience. I do agree that sharing your blog articles in an email newsletter is a great strategy. You can track who’s clicked on the link and see what articles are resonating with your audience. And you put your material in front of subscribers who may not see your content on social networks.

  • Mike Hind

    I’ve thought for a while that it’s time to retire the word ‘blog’. This discussion totally sealed that view for me. Fantastic show – as always, Mr Stelzner – thanks!

  • Thanks Mike 🙂

  • Thanks for your comment Gloria

  • Hey Elias,

    First about paying. It depends on your business model. Does your content help generate revenue? If so then it might make sense to pay for wider exposure.

    Second, absolutely you need a way to link back to a home base in my opinion.

    Third, I think you have a valid point. Google will obviously show an article published on LinkedIn above a smaller blog. So from a ranking perspective in search it could make more sense to distribute your content. It’s a tough one to answer

  • I think redistributing content on these platforms is a great idea, but I’ll always keep my blog. It’s my personal branded space on the internet, it’s design says something about me. Moving forward in the future, if my tastes change I can change my blog to reflect this (i’ll probably end up going even more minimalist). My brand/business is something that is mine, something I can choose to change and improve. You have little control over the design and usability of another site.

    The internet would be a very boring place if everyone used a few platforms to express themselves.

  • I really enjoyed this podcast discussion. Mike, I am glad that you made the distinction between writing for content you own (Medium, LinkedIn, etc) vs. writing for Harvard Business Review and other traditional outlets, which requires typical media relations pitching skills. These are two totally different approaches. Question: I have heard different views on posting the same content on multiple outlets and how that impacts SEO negatively. Do you – or anyone else here – have thoughts on this, and best practice on duplicating content on different platforms? Should titles be tweaked? Should some of the text be amended from one outlet to another? Would be grateful for any thoughts.

  • Hey Kevin – To your question on SEO. I think if you get a chance to publish a good article on a really big blog you should take it. Why? Because your content, authored by you, will ride the search wave of that big blog and it could be powerful. Regarding taking your existing blog post and distributing it all over the place, I am honestly not sure as I am not an SEO guy.

  • Greg

    This was one of my favourite episodes – the dog got a long walk!

    But, I have a question, and please correct me if I’m missing something. If I am blogging and selling ads on my blog page, or including Adsense, in what ways can I make more revenue by putting my content on other platforms? And, if social networks like Facebook are going to ask for a distribution fee, how can I stay in business with reduced ad clicks and more costs simply being seen (but not paid)?

  • Subodh Rkr

    One of the most important discussion between the Internet Marketers since years.But i dont think blogging can not be dead until the Internet Marketing works.

  • Shane Dallas

    This is the first time I have listened to any of your podcasts and I loved it! I think blogging has passed its peak. There will always be a market for blogs, but it will become more of a niche. I rarely blog nowadays as I get far more influence through Twitter and Google+ (in addition to offline work in public speaking and radio). I’m giving a keynote speech in Netherlands next week on making money as a travel blogger, and the idea of only relying on a blog to earn a living are gone. Nowadays, one must be more entrepreneurial and provide far more than written content on a blog such as offering different features, products and services.

  • Hey Shane – Glad you loved the podcast and congrats on your keynote. Interesting comment about the travel blogging industry.

  • Thanks for your comment Subodh

  • Glad you and the dog got a nice walk Greg. I think you have a very valid question.

  • Thanks for your comment Paul

  • Great, great show! Really liked the format and differing perspectives. No easy answers here, but an important look ahead that gives all of us time to make the best decisions for our respective businesses.

    For the record, while I do/will take full advantage of networks like Medium, LinkedIn and Facebook, I will always own.

  • Peter_IMPACT

    Just taken a social media course to sharpen up my knowledge base – my task is uncovering my own voice to stand out. So much noise out there it’s hard to conjour up content that sticks. I find myself writing from a view point of ‘what will work’ in said environment which doesn’t tend to inspire me. I guess the trick is to translate my own passions – something I find easy doing for others, not just myself.

    I did read a post somewhere recently that suggests for 2016, social media platforms and the content you share will be just as important as SEO and your own webspace if not more so…

  • one thing I did not hear in this podcast was the affect of Google giving preference in search to long form content – a reason why blogs over 2000 words have real value to those of are writing longer content. i think blogs are not dead and written well still matters in my content strategy.

  • Thanks Jeff. Where are you getting the most traction for your words?

  • Hey JoAnne,

    In many regards, bigger sites that you guest post on will get your articles higher in search rankings than your own blog. So you actually might play the Google game on someone else’s site

  • You ask a good question Mike. That would have to be the spoken words, my podcast. That’s also why I’m starting a another podcast later this month. Next is sites that syndicate my content (like Business2Community) and guest blogging. It has been a while, but my posts here on SME generated substantial traction. 🙂

  • This article makes a person think, that is for sure.
    I think we have to consider a few things before jumping to conclusions.
    I will use this blog as my example. Check the list numbers compared to three years ago..
    This blog caters to a niche that is in demand… and the number of people looking at this blog is exploding.
    What I am saying is that we have to check what we are building on our real estate before changing our location.

  • Gillian

    This was so awesome! Thanks Mike.

  • My pleasure Gillian

  • Jody Lundrigan, BWG

    This may have been the best podcast – or blog 😉 – you’ve ever done, and I’ve been listening for 3 solid years. It was thought provoking and definitely controversial for our industry. Thanks for going there. I would have paid money – and people will and should pay money – for such discussions (SMMW16?!?). I found myself talking back (I guess to myself) while listening. You hold a great space for such discussions and such is your niche in this industry – thought leadership in social media with on the ground experts. Kudos!